Man and Woman: Two halves of a whole that form humankind. One cannot exist without the other, but at times it is our intrinsic, but essential differences that cause us to feel locked in a co-dependent alliance filled with anguish and frustration. Countless authors, “relationship experts” and random intimacy Guru’s have profited off of our desire to understand (or merely learn to tolerate) members of the opposite sex. One financially successful franchise went so far as to imply that men and women are from two totally different planets, Mars & Venus.
A thought provoking article titled Human Hardware: Men And Women takes a scientific look at some key differences between the two sexes that could possibly explain the eternal struggle men and women face in trying to form a sometimes uneasy union.
According to one particular study, there are distinct differences between the male and female brain. Scientists at UC – Irvine found that males have 6.5 times more grey matter in their dome than females, while women have 10 times more white matter than the fellas:
“Gray matter is the raw processing material of the brain, and white matter connects the processing centers. That means that men’s brains have a little more horsepower, but women’s brains are better connected. Consequently, men can focus better on tasks that require raw manipulation of data, and women are better at pulling information for multiple sources and synthesizing it. [In addition] the researchers found no significant differences in general intelligence between men and women. Although our brains are wired differently, they seem to work equally well.”
The following finding may provide evidence that verifies that belief that women are more equipped for multi-tasking than men:
New neuro-scanning techniques have shown that men and women actually use different parts of the brain when we process information and think about things. Much of the processing women do is in the frontal lobes. Men’s processing is distributed throughout more of the brain. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), another study has found that our ability to multitask can be mapped to anterior prefrontal cortex, which is part of these frontal lobes.
Another study attempts to address that age old conflict between men and women: The handling of directional navigation. When finding their way from point A to B, men use a segment of the brain known as the hippocampus, which is thought to be part of our older evolutionary brain. However, women use the right prefrontal cortex, a more recent development of the human brain. In essence, males are inclined to navigate by gut instinct and women approach it as if solving a mental puzzle.
On language, women have been found to process verbal communication in a more complex manner (which may come as no surprise to some):
It seems that boys literally have one-track minds when it comes to language. If they hear words, their auditory system is at work. If they read words, their visual system kicks into gear. But girls process language more holistically, in the language centers of the brain. This is where we think abstractly about language, processing its meaning. In boys, this part of the brain was much less active than in girls. At this point, researchers are not sure whether this is a gender difference, or simply because the study was done on school age children and girls tend to develop faster than boys in this area. But other studies have shown that women maintain a distinct advantage over men in language processing.
These are interesting points to ponder that may help us to overcome our tendency to pigeonhole one another and release rigid stereotypes like “men have a basic simple, dim-witted nature,” or “women are needy and overly emotional.” The battle of the sexes may seem never ending, but it proves our profound desire make peace in managing our fundamental interdependence on one another.